When it comes to self-care, we give a ton of attention to our hands, feet, face, arms, neck, legs. But there’s one little area we tend to overlook. It’s the belly button. If you aren’t cleaning out that tiny crevice on a regular basis, you may want to reconsider.
Because the navel can be a breeding ground for dirt, sweat, bacteria, and a variety of unpleasant substances. This is especially worse if you’ve had this spot pierced. In fact, the average belly button harbors more than 6o kinds of bacteria in addition to lotions, dirt, sweat and soap.
The belly button or navel is a dip in the middle of the belly. It marks the place where a person’s umbilical cord was attached in the womb. Belly buttons come in all shapes and sizes, and, no matter how they look, they can become infected.
You’re even at higher risk of problems if you have an “innie” belly button or navel piercings. That’s because deeper belly buttons and piercings are more apt to become infected.
Why Does My Belly Button Smell?
Most belly buttons are indented so act as a trap for sweat, dead skin, and dirt. The most common cause for a belly button smell is poor hygiene. All areas of the body need to be washed regularly to stay clean and healthy.
Discharge and smells can be a result of several different factors, though slight navel odors are typically normal. If you have a combination of foul smell and discharge, it could be a sign of a:
- fungal infection or yeast infection of your navel
- bacterial infection of your belly button
- wound or bruise around or within your navel
- simple build-up of sweat and belly button dirt
Signs of navel infection
Belly buttons that are crusted, inflamed, or itchy may be infected. Common symptoms of a belly button infection or allergic reaction to a piercing include:
- Red, itchy skin around the navel
- Foul smells
- Yellow, green, or dark-colored discharge
- Persistent pain, particularly around a piercing
- Blistering around the navel or piercing
Rarely, people can develop stone-like masses inside the belly button. Known as omphaliths or umboliths. These growths can fill the entire navel and lead to infection, inflammation and skin ulceration.
How to Clean Your Belly Button
The first step is just a shower with plain soap and water. This should remove lint, dirt and some bacteria. You don’t need to scrub, but you should make sure the shower washes away obvious grime. However, those with deeper navels may need to get a little more aggressive about cleanliness.
You are however lucky if you have an “outtie”. Because your navel is probably pretty clean. Dip your finger or a soft washcloth in a solution of salt water and gently massage the inside of your navel. This should loosen stubborn germs that can cause odor. Then rinse with plain water and pat it dry.
Additionally, you can dip one head of the cotton swab into whatever cleaning solution you want. Remove it and start poking around in your navel. Gently work your way around the belly button, being careful not to rub inside the navel too hard.
Moreover, resist the temptation to apply lotions or creams to your belly button. Because, the extra moisture can contribute to bacterial or fungal growth. Gently dry the inside of your navel with the tip of a dry washcloth.
How to Clean a Belly Button Piercing
If you have a navel piercing, you’ll need to pay special attention to your belly button. You can use the same saltwater solution mentioned above.
Wet a clean cloth in the solution and apply it to the area as a warm compress several times a day. This should remove any discharge or crust and allow you to gently move the jewelry through the piercing. Pat it dry when you’re finished.
However, remember if your belly button still smells and doesn’t respond to these approaches, you should visit your doctor.